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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Genesis 16

 

 

Verses 1-16

FIFTH SECTION

Abram’s Concession to Sarai’s Impatience. Abram and Hagar. Hagar’s Flight. The Angel of the Lord. Hagar’s Return, and Ishmael’s Birth

Genesis 16:1-16

1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife [in the face of the previous promise], bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar [flight, fugitive]. 2And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing; I pay thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain [be builded], children by hen And 3 Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

4And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes 5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee 6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee [is good in thine eyes]. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

7And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur [rocky. Josephus: Pelusium. Gesenius: Suez. Keil: Dschïfar]. 8And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence earnest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress, Sarai 9 And the angel of the Lord said unto her. Return to thy mistress, and submit [bow] thyself under her hands 10 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be [cannot be] numbered for multitude 11 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a Song of Solomon, and shalt call his name Ishmael12[God will hear]; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction [distress]. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every Prayer of Manasseh, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren—[far and wide in a free country]. 13And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me [of true seeing]: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that [peculiarly] seeth me? 14Wherefore the well was called, Beer-lahai-roi [well of the life of seeing, or vision]; behold, it is between Kadesh [consecrated] and Bered [hail, gravel-like hail?].

15And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael 16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

PRELIMINARY REMARK

For the difficulties growing out of the sexual relations in the history of the Patriarchs, see the Introduction, p80.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. According to Knobel, this section is a Jehovistic enlargement of a brief Elohistic original narrative. But the narrative bears upon its face a complete and living unity.

2. Sarai’s Fanatical Self-denial ( Genesis 16:1-4). Bare him no children. Not even yet, although he had already received ( Genesis 15) the solemn assurance of the great promise. She was barren in Genesis 11:30, and remained so after Genesis 15:2. The childless state of Abram’s house was its great sorrow, and the more Song of Solomon, since it was in perpetual opposition to the calling, destination, and faith of Abram, and was a constant trial of his faith. Sarai herself, moreover, the consort of Abram, came gradually more and more to appear as a hindrance to the fulfilment of the divine promise, and as Abram, according to Genesis 15, had fixed his eye upon his head servant, Eliezer of Damascus, so now, Sarai fixes her eye upon her head maiden,[FN1] Hagar the Egyptian. Hagar was probably added to the household of Abram during his residence in Egypt ( Genesis 12:10). She manifestly possessed a prominent place in his household, and appears to have brought to that position, not only mental gifts, but also an inward participation in the faith of the household.—The Lord hath restrained me from bearing.[FN2] (The mother’s womb closed—a figurative description of the appointed barrenness). The barrenness, also, is traced back to the highest causality, the purpose of Jehovah ( Genesis 29:31; Genesis 30:32; Psalm 127:3; Isaiah 66:9). The sexual relations, and the declarations in regard to them, are sanctified by their ultimate end, their spiritual reference. The dejection, at least, the sorrow, breaks out in the words of Sarai, also, as they had in the utterance of Abram, Genesis 15:3.—Go in unto. Euphemistic explanation of the sexual connection.—It may be that I may obtain (be builded) by her. As to the connection between בית,בן,בנה, see the lexicons. To be built, is to become a house; to become a house, is to obtain children, a family. Hagar should enlarge Sarai: Hagar’s child should be her child (see Genesis 30:3). The concubine, viewed in the light of this reason, for which she is chosen, is not so much the concubine of the husband, as supplementary concubine of the wife. The moral idea of monogamy shines clearly through this obscurity in its manifestation, and so far this, “possession of concubines” (as Knobel expresses it) must be distinguished from the later polygamy, which appeared among the Jews. Sarai practises an act of heroic self-denial, but still, in her womanly and fanatical excitement, anticipates her destiny as Eve had done, and carries even the patriarch away with her alluring hope. The writer intimates how nobly generous she was in her error. This greatness clouded even the clear-sightedness of Abram.[FN3] The narrator brings also into prominence the extenuating fact, that they had been already ten years in Canaan, waiting in vain for the heir of Canaan.—When she saw that she had conceived. “The unfruitful Hannah received the like treatment with Sarai, from the second wife of her husband ( 1 Samuel 1:6). It is still thus, to-day, in eastern lands (see Lane: ‘Manners and Customs,’ i. p198). The Hebrew regards barrenness as a great evil and a divine punishment ( Genesis 19:31; Genesis 30:1; Genesis 30:23; Leviticus 20:20), and fruitfulness as a great good and a divine blessing ( Genesis 21:6; Genesis 24:60; Exodus 23:26; Deuteronomy 7:14). The orientals regard these things in the same light still (see Volney: ‘Travels,’ ii. p359; Malcolm’s ‘History of Persia;’ and Winer: Real-wörterbuch, art. Kinder).” Knobel. Hagar, however, had not the position of a second wife, and erred, when in her disposition she assumed this position, instead of recognizing her subordination to her mistress. This subordination was assumed by Abram, and therefore he does not seem to have noticed her haughtiness and pride.[FN4]

3. Sarai’s Displeasure and Hagar’s Flight ( Genesis 16:5-6).—My wrong be upon thee. Precisely, wrong in an objective sense, wrong which I suffer. Sarai, in her indignation against the pride and insolence of Hagar, believed that Abram looked with approbation upon it, and therefore expresses herself as if offended.[FN5] The overbent bow flies back with violence. This is the back-stroke of her own eager, overstrained course. Still, her words are against Abram; the consequences of her wrong should fall upon him; she would leave his conduct to the judgment of Jehovah, more as an appeal to his con-science, than as a decided condemnation.[FN6]Behold thy maid is in thy hand. Abram adheres firmly to the original standpoint. He regards Hagar still as the servant, and the one who fulfils the part of Sarai, and so far justifies himself against Sarai. But this justification is turned now into the severe censure and affliction of Hagar, and this is the result of the wrong position into which he has allowed himself to be drawn.—Sarai dealt hardly with her. How, precisely, we are not told. Doubtless, through the harsh thrusting her back into the mere position and service of a slave. Hagar believed that she had grown above such a position, and flees. The proud, unyielding passion of the Ishmaelite for freedom, shows its characteristic feature in their ancestress. Some have ventured so far, as to suppose that Abram must have hastened after her, and brought her back, full of honor.

4. The intervention on the part of the Angel of Jehovah, and Hagar’s return ( [The expression מַלְאַךְ יְהוָֹה appears here for the first time. While the Angel of Jehovah is Jehovah himself, it is remarkable, that in the very meaning of the name, as messenger, or one who is sent, there is implied a distinction of persons in the Godhead. There must be one who sends, whose message he bears.—A. G.][FN7] That this Angel is identical with Jehovah, is placed beyond question in Genesis 16:13-14. The disposition of Hagar, helpless, forsaken, with all her pride, still believing in God, warned by her own conscience, makes it altogether fitting that the Angel of Jehovah should appear to her, i.e., Jehovah himself, in his condescension—manifesting himself as the Angel.—She had found rest, by a fountain in the wilderness; and here, in her helplessness, self-reflection, and repentance, she gains the disposition or fitness for the vision. It was by the fountain in the way to Shur. “Shur, now Dschïfar, is the northwestern part of the desert of Arabia, bordering upon Egypt (comp. Exodus 15:22; and Tuch: in der deutschen morgenländ. Zeitschrift, i. p175).” Keil. ( Genesis 25:18; 1 Samuel 15:7; 1 Samuel 27:8). A waste stretch of land, of five or six days’ journey, lying between Palestine and Egypt (see Knobel, p158). Her location was thus upon the old, worn path, leading from Hebron by Beersheba to Egypt. The respect which she enjoyed agrees with her personal, inward worth, as to her character and faith, but at the same time tends to the proper estimate of Ishmael, who, as the child of Abram, could not be left undistinguishable among the heathen. The Angel of the incarnation, even, could not permit that Hagar, in an erroneous zeal to become his future mother, should go on his own account into helpless sorrow. His first address sounds as the voice of her own awakened conscience: Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? Truly, out of a wilfully sundered relation of duty and piety, and out of the house of blessing. [The angel brings her to a sense of her true relation: Sarai’s maid, not Abram’s wife.—A. G.]—And whither goest thou? indeed, wilfully into guilt, disgrace, and sorrow. Her answer testifies to the oppression which she had experienced, but also to the voice of her own conscience.—From the face of my mistress, Sarai.—Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself. [Submit, humble thyself; the same word as that by which Sarai’s harsh-dealing is described.—A. G.] The command to return to duty comes first, then the promise. It carries the joyous sound of an innumerable progeny—the tribes of Ishmael.—Ishmael, because the Lord hath heard. Misery sighs; the sighs ascend to God; hence misery itself, if not sent as a curse, is a voiceless prayer to God. But this is true especially of the misery of Hagar, who had learned to pray in the house of Abram. “According to the later writers, it was the custom that the mother should name the child ( Genesis 4:1; Genesis 4:25; Genesis 19:37 ff; Genesis 29:32 ff; Genesis 30:6 ff; Genesis 38:3 ff.).; but the Elohist allows the child to be named only by the father ( Genesis 5:3; Genesis 16:15; Genesis 17:19; Genesis 21:3; comp. Genesis 15:18).” Knobel. This distinction is obviously far-fetched. It is only on special occasions that the mother is referred to as giving the name to the child. In Genesis 38:3-4, the father and mother are alternately concerned in giving the name. Abram himself afterwards appropriates the maternal naming of Ishmael.—And he will be a wild man (wild-ass man). The limitation of the promise is connected with the promise itself. Hagar must be cured of the proud delusion, that she is destined to become the mother of the believing people of Abram, and that therefore the hope of Abram depends upon her personal self-destination; a supposition which doubtless had taken firm possession of her mind, through the presupposition of Sarai herself. The image of the wild ass is not chosen in a contemptuous sense. “The figure of the פֶּרֶא, onager, in the desert, free, wild-roving and untamable animal, poetically described in Job 39:5-8, designates, in a striking manner, the Bedouin Arabs with their unrestrained love of freedom, as upon camel (Delûl) or horse, with spear in hand, they ride over the desert, noisy, hardy, frugal, delighting in the varied beauties of nature, and despising life in towns and cities:” and the words, his hand will be against every Prayer of Manasseh, and every man’s hand against him, describe the ceaseless feuds among themselves and with their neighbors, in which the Ishmaelites live.” Keil. Compare the characteristics of Esau, Genesis 27:40. For the description of the Arabs in the books of travels, see Knobel, p158.[FN8] Knobel thinks that here also the prophetic image is drawn after the descendants (the free sons of the desert), and finds besides that the promises ( Genesis 17:20; Genesis 21:20,) “have a more favorable sound.” If this were true, it would be only the other side of the same figure. Hagar must know, above all other things, that Ishmael could not appropriate to himself the inheritance of blessing. This is intimated in the words, In the presence of all his brethren. He will thus have brethren, but shall dwell in the presence of all, a free man. Keil remarks, that עַל־פְּנֵי signifies primarily, eastward, according to Genesis 25:9, but that there is more in the terms than a mere geographical notice, to wit, that Ishmael shall dwell independently, in the presence of all the descendants of Abram. But history has abundantly confirmed this promise. “Until to-day the Ishmaelites are in unimpaired, free possession of the great peninsula lying between the Euphrates, the isthmus of Suez, and the Red Sea, from whence they have spread over wide districts in North Africa and Southern Asia” (comp. Delitzsch, p377 ff.)[FN9]And she called the name of the Lord (Jehovah). The naming f God by Hagar (אֵל־רֳאִי) has been variously interpreted. Hengstenberg, with Tuch, finds the explanation in the farther named well, “well of the life of seeing,” or “vision,” i.e. where a person has seen the face of God, and remains alive. Delitzsch holds this to be a verbal impossibility. We add, that the supposition as to the reality in this explanation, which appears also in Keil, is incorrect. We must distinguish between the patriarchal and legal periods. Of the legal period it is said: thou canst not see my face, for no man shall see me and live ( Exodus 33:20); that was true of Moses, so far as he was the mediator of his sinful people (see Exodus 33:13). The prejudice in Israel, that no one could see the revelation of God and live ( Judges 13:22), took its origin from these words. But the sense of the words was, that the manifestation of God in the midst of the sinful people of Israel, and even for Moses, so far as he was the representative of the people, would be fatal. Hence the regulation requiring darkness in the holy of holies. But of Moses, viewed in and for himself, it is said: The Lord spake with him face to face ( Exodus 33:11). Moses, in and for himself, stood upon the patriarchal ground, but as the mediator of the people, he stood upon the ground of the law, and must first, through the sight of the grace of the Lord, be prepared for the sight of his glory ( Exodus 33:19). It is an error to confuse the two economies, patriarchal and legal. Here the Angel of the Lord reveals himself, there the law is ordained through the Angel. Here, those wearied of life, go in peace to their fathers, there death is the wages of sin. Here one sees God in the reality of true vision, there God retires into the darkness of the Holy of Holies. It is still a question, however, whether רֳאִי should mean, the one seeing my person (the participle from ראה with the suffix of the first person) as Hofmann, Baumgarten, and Delitzsch explain after the Chaldee: “thou art a God of sight, whose all-seeing eye will not overlook the helpless and forsaken, even in the most remote corner of the desert.” The meaning of the name Moriah ( Genesis 22:2; Genesis 22:8; Genesis 22:14) appears to be in favor of this reference of the seeing, to God. But here, also, the seeing of Jehovah, was perceived from the appearance of Jehovah, i.e. from his becoming seen (or visible). Keil quotes against the interpretation of Hofmann the expression רֹאֵנוּ ( Isaiah 29:15) and רֹאָנִי ( Isaiah 47:10), as a designation of the one seeing—who sees me. Thus: רֳאִי in pauseרֹאִי is a substantive, and designates the sight, the vision. Gesenius, Keil, and others: “God has manifested himself to her as a God of vision, who can be seen of the actual, most perfect sight, in his angel.”—For she said, Have I also looked after him. Do I see him still. This is not said in the sense of the popular judgment of the legal period: Am I actually still seeing, i.e. in the land of the living, after I have seen Jehovah? (Kiel, Knobel, etc.); but, what I now see in this wretched desert, is that still to be regarded as seeing, after I have seen the Angel of the Lord? (= the glory of the Lord?)[FN10] This is a true, and in the highest degree, real characterizing of the glorious seeing in the condition of the vision (“I have seen thy throne, O Lord, from afar”). It is at the same time, in the highest degree natural, as Hagar expresses the contrast between the two conditions, that of the ordinary seeing and that of the highest seeing (vision).—Wherefore the well was called. Thus not the well of the life of seeing or life of vision (Hengstenberg, Keil), but where the life = the life-giver—quickener, manifests himself, who grants the vision.—Between Kadesh and Bered. “Although Bered is not mentioned elsewhere, Rowland has still, with great probability, pointed out the well of Hagar, mentioned again ( Genesis 24:62; Genesis 25, 11), in the fountain Ain Kadesh, lying in the camping-ground of the caravans moving from Syria to Sinai southward from Beersheba, Moyle, or Moilchi, Muweilch (Robinson: Palestine), which the Arabians call Moilahhi (or Mai-lahhi) Hadjar; who show there also a rocky dwelling, Beit-Hadjar (see Rowland, in Ritter’sErdkunde, xiv. p1086). Bered must lie to the west of this.” Keil.

5. Hagar’s Return ( Genesis 16:15-16). There are two points which must still be noticed here. First, that Abram receives the name Ishmael, with which, of course, the Revelation -reception of Hagar is expressed; and secondly, the age of Abram, which is of importance in view of the next recurring revelation of Jehovah, as showing the lapse of time between them.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

See the Exegetical paragraphs.

1. Sarai’s character: noble generosity, self-denial, the female friend still more than the sister or wife of Abram, but woman-like, and in a fanatical way anticipating the patience of faith (see 1 Peter 3:6).

2. The moral motive or impulse of seeking the heir of blessing, made availing to an erroneous and selfish degree, is here torn away from its connection with the love impulse or motive, and exalted above it in importance (see the Introduction, p81).

3. This substitution of the maid for the mistress must, however, be distinguished from polygamy in its peculiar sense. Hagar, on the contrary, regards herself—in the sense of polygamy, as standing with Sarai, and as the favored, fruitful wife, exalts herself above her. The shadow of polygamy resting upon patriarchal monogamy. Isaac’s marriage free from this. It has the purest New Testament form. Rebecca appears, indeed, to have exercised a certain predominant influence, as the wife often does this in the Christian marriage of modern times.

4. Abram’s wrong position between Sarai and Hagar—the result of his yielding to the fanaticism of Sarai.[FN11]

5. The Angel of the Lord ( Genesis 12). The voice of the Angel and the voice of the awakened conscience one, and yet distinct.

6. The words of the Angel leading to conversion: 1. Clear description: Hagar, Sarai’s maid; 2. Whence earnest thou? 3. Whither wilt thou go? The beginning of conversion itself: simple, pure, clear knowledge.

7. Obligation and promises are not to be separated in the kingdom of God, for it is throughout a moral region. But the form changes according to the circumstances—now the higher (evangelical) promises and obligations, now the lower (preparatory) obligations and promises.

Genesis 16:10. Gerlach: A blessing in its external form greater even than that promised to Abram, Genesis 15:5. Still, even in the feebler splendor, we should recognize the great promised blessing of the father of believers. “Arabia, whose population consists to a large extent of Ishmaelites, is a living fountain of men whose streams for thousands of years have poured themselves far and wide to the east and west. Before Mohammed, its tribes were found in all border-Asia, in the East Indies as early as the middle ages; and in all Northern Africa it is the cradle of all the wandering hordes. Along the whole Indian Ocean, down to Molucca, they had their settlements in the middle ages; they spread along the coast to Mozambique; their caravans crossed India to China; and in Europe they peopled Southern Spain, and ruled it for seven hundred years.” Ritter.

8. Hagar’s satisfaction with the future of her Song of Solomon, a sign of her humiliation.[FN12] The picture of Ishmael here the image of a scion of Abram and the maid (Goethe: “From my father comes the bodily stature, the bearing of the higher life; from my mother the joyful disposition and love of pleasure.” See Lange: Vermischte Schriften, i. p156.) The relation between ancestors and their descendants. The law of life which lies at the ground of the contrast between the son of the maid and the son of the free ( John 1:13). The discord in the offspring of misalliances. Ed. Pöpping: “Travels in Chili, Peru, etc.” p139. On the color. These mixed progenies reward the dark mother with contempt, the white father, with aversion. “A large part of the Bedouins still lead a robber-life. They justify themselves in it, upon the ground of the hard treatment of Ishmael, their father, who, driven out of his paternal inheritance, received the desert for his possession, with the permission to take wherever he could find.” Gerlach. “The Arabian’s land, according to their assumed right, reaches as far as they are free to go.” Ritter.

9. The importance of the Arabs in history. Ishmael. God hears. The strong, world-historical “wild-ass,” springs out of the mercy of God towards the misery of Hagar. His hand against every man: this is true of the spiritual Ishmael, Mohammedanism, in its relation to other religions. It stands in a fanatical polemic relation.—The Arabians have never been overcome by any of the great world-conquerors, while they have made great and world-wide conquests.

10. Hagar’s expression in regard to her vision. The divine vision a look into the eternal world. Actual sight in the world of sense is no more sight, when compared with this.

11. The living God is a God of human vision, because he is a God of divine revelation.

12. The well of the living God, in which he makes men to see (the true seeing) a symbol of the gospel of the kingdom of God, of the Church in the desert of the world.

13. Hagar’s return laid the foundation for the world-historical dignity and honor of her son Ishmael.—Ishmael, also, must return to Abram’s house.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Genesis 16:1-4. The fanatical anticipation of men, grasping after their destination, and its results, a judgment in favor of the more patient waiting and expectation: 1. In the history of Sarai; 2. the history of Eve; 3. in the history of the Church (the mediæval anticipation of the kingdom of glory).—The perils of the husband in his relations to the wife: 1. Her fanaticism (Sarai); 2. her sensuality (Hagar).—Sarai’s indignation: the reaction from fanatical, over-strained zeal.

Genesis 16:4. Hagar’s pride: the exaltation which we experience, is easily destroyed if we are so disposed, through self-glorying.—The wrong position of Abram the result of his conduct not originating in himself.

Genesis 16:7. The Angel of the Lord; or the most wretched in the kingdom of God, enjoy the highest revelations of his mercy.—The Angel of the Lord as an angel of conversion: 1. His address; 2. his question, Whence; 3. his question, Whither; 4. his instruction; 5. his promises; 6. the extent and order in his promises.—Hagar’s experience, that sight, is no more sight after the vision.—Man beholds by faith, because God looks upon him in grace.—At the wells in the desert.—Hagar’s return.—The perpetuation of the experience of Hagar, in the name Ishmael.—Abram eighty-six years old.—Age no security against folly.—God turns the follies of believers to their good.—Ishmael’s importance in history (field for missions in the East).

Starke: Genesis 16:2. That was an abuse of the ruling power over her maid, and of the power of marriage which Sarai had over the body of her husband ( 1 Corinthians 7:3). Sarai, as well as Abram, was concerned in the sin, hence the defenders of concubinage and polygamy have no ground upon which to stand here.—(Foreign, and especially unbelieving servants of strange religions, may often work great injury to a master or a government).—We must not do evil that good may come ( Romans 3:8).—Although a man may counsel with his wife, and follow her counsel, it must not be done to go into evil.—Lange: See, fellow-christian, what one’s own will and choice will do for a man! It enjoins often a greater denial than God requires of him.—Cramer: Genesis 16:4. It is a common fault, that the morals of many are changed by their elevation to honor, and that prosperity brings pride ( Proverbs 30:21-23).—Kindness is quite generally rewarded by ingratitude. Genesis 16:7. A proof that the Angel of the Lord was the Son of God.

Genesis 16:5. It is a common course with men to roll their guilt upon others.—Lange: Nothing is more injurious to the quiet comfort of marriage, and of the whole household, and to the training of children, than polygamy: it is impossible, therefore, that it should be in accordance with the law of nature.—The Same: Ishmael is the first of those, to whom God has assigned their name before their birth. After him there are five others: Isaac ( Genesis 17:19), Solomon ( 1 Chronicles 22:9), Josiah ( 1 Kings 13:2), Cyrus ( Isaiah 45:1)? and John ( Luke 1:13). Lastly, Jesus, the Saviour, is the seventh ( Matthew 1:21).—Luther: The positions in life are very unlike. Therefore we should remember and hold to this consolation, which the Angel shows: lo, thou art a servant, a maid, poor, etc. Let this be for thy comfort, that thy God looks alike upon masters and servants, rich and poor, sinners and saints.—Cramer: It is according to the ordinance of God, that one should be lord, another servant, etc. ( 1 Corinthians 7:10).—Bibl. Tub.: Thou hast sinned, humble thyself, take cheerfully the chastisement; nothing is more wholesome than that which will bow our proud spirits into humility ( 2 Samuel 24:10; 2 Samuel 24:14).

Genesis 16:14. He who not only holds Hagar in life, but is also the life itself ( John 11:25; Deuteronomy 32:46), the living God ( Deuteronomy 5:26; Psalm 42:3, etc.).—In this God we shall find the true living springs of all good and mercy ( Psalm 36:9; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; Isaiah 55:1).

Lisco: Sinful helping of ourselves.—Man must not only leave the end to God, but also the means ( Romans 11:36).

Genesis 16:7. The (not one) Angel of the Lord, the uncreated Angel of the Covenant ( Malachi 3:1).

Genesis 16:13. These words designate the reality of that revelation made to her and for her good.—The breach of the divine ordinance soon avenges itself, for the unnatural relation in which the slave had been placed by her mistress herself, prepared for the mistress the most vexatious grief.—Gerlach: The Angel of the Lord, is the divine revealer of God, the leader of the patriarchs ( Genesis 48:16); the one who calls and animates Moses ( Exodus 3:2); the leader of the people through the wilderness ( Exodus 14:19, etc.; Isaiah 63:9); the champion of the Israelites in Canaan ( Joshua 5:13); and still farther, the leader and ruler of the covenant-people ( Judges 2:1 ff; Judges 6:11; Judges 13:13); then he who in Isaiah is the Angel of his face or presence ( Isaiah 63:9); in Daniel, Michael (and by whom Gabriel was sent to the prophet, Daniel 10:13 ?) in Zechariah, measures the new building of Jerusalem ( Genesis 2:1); and in Malachi is the Angel of the Covenant ( Genesis 3:1).—Calwer, Handbuch: Mohammed is a son of Ishmael, and Abram’ is thus, according to the flesh, the ancestor of Islam.—The Arabian, even now, grounds upon this passage, in his pride and delusion, a claim that the rights of primogeniture belong to Ishmael instead of Isaac, and asserts his own right to lands and goods, so far as it pleases him.—Vengeance for blood rules in him, and in many cases, also, the work of the robber is seen all along his path.

Genesis 16:12. In the presence of all his brethren: the Israelites, Midianites, Edomites, and the Moabites and Ammonites, who were descended from Lot.—Schröder: Genesis 16:7. The Angel of the Lord finds Hagar; that presupposes he had sought her ( Deuteronomy 32:10).—God meets thee in thy desert; he comes to thee in thy conscience; he kindles in thee the sparks into a flame, and comes to thy help in his grace (Berleb. Bibel).—Islamism occupies incontestably the place of a middle link between revelation and heathenism; as even the Koran calls the Ishmaelites, an intermediate nation (Ziegler: it names it thus in another sense, however).—God tries us in such changes: comfort follows sorrow; hope succeeds to despondency; and life to death. (Portraiture of the Arabian, of the wild-ass. The Arabian = son of the morning— Judges 6:3; Judges 6:33; Judges 8:10).

Genesis 16:16. Moses records the age of Abram, that we might know how long he had to wait for Isaac the promised Song of Solomon, whom Sarai should bear (Calvin).—Passavant: Impatience.

Genesis 16:1-6. Ah, should God grant us our own way, permit us to order our present, to arrange our future, to adorn our houses, without consulting with him, it would be no good and joyful thing to us. Whoever has, as to his way, separated himself from him, and sought afar from him, without his Wisdom of Solomon, happiness, salvation, life, acts unwisely, wickedly. His light is obscure, his step uncertain, the ground trembles beneath him, and his lights (lamps) are soon extinguished in darkness.—The woman has learned, in Abram’s house, to recognize the God over all gods.—Schwenke: Genesis 16:7. She believes that her departure from the house of Abram would determine him to hasten after her and bring her back, etc. She sits down by the fountain, vainly waiting, until Abram should come to lead her home. Her pride is broken.—The call of the Angel.—That was the call of the good shepherd, who would bring back the wandering sheep. Thus even now the two peoples who received the promise, the descendants of Ishmael and Israel, stand as the monument of the divine veracity, as peculiar and even singular instances; guarding with the greatest care their nationality, practising their old customs and usages, and preserving, in their exclusiveness, their spiritual strength (destination?)

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Here, of course, her slave, bond-woman.—A. G.]

FN#2 - , shut me up.—A. G.]

FN#3 - Abram yields to the suggestion of Sarai without opposition, because, as the prophet Malachi says, ii15, he sought the seed promised by God. Keil, p152.—A. G.]

FN#4 - And it was this apparent indifference which probably was the source of Sarai’s sense of injury. She was led from it to suspect that the affections of her husband were transferred.—A. G.]

FN#5 - She felt that Abram ought to have redressed her wrong—ought to have seen and rebuked the insolence of the bond-woman.—A. G.]

FN#6 - The appeal is hasty and passionate—springing from a mind smarting under the sense of injury—and not calm and reverential.—A. G.]

FN#7 - The phraseology indicates to us a certain inherent plurality within the essence of the one only God, of which we have had previous indications, Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22. Jacobus, p277.]

FN#8 - All the modern travellers speak of these same qualities as still existing among the Arabs.—A. G.]

FN#9 - Kalisch remarks in substance: “Every addition to our knowledge of Arabia and its inhabitants, confirms more strongly the biblical statements. While they have carried their arms beyond their native tracts, and ascended more than a hundred thrones, they were never subjected to the Persian Empire. The Assyrian and Babylonian kings had only transitory power over small portions of their tribes. Here the ambition of Alexander the Great and his successors received an insuperable check, and a Roman expedition, in the time of Augustus, totally failed. The Bedouins have remained essentially unaltered since the time of the Hebrews and the Greeks.”—A. G.]

FN#10 - Amidst the variety of versions of these phrases, the general sense is obvious. There is a recognition of the gracious and quickening presence of God revealed to her, and a devout wonder that she should have been favored with such a vision. If we render the name which Hagar gives to Jehovah, as the Hebrew seems to demand, “Thou art a God of vision, or visibility,” i.e. who hast revealed thyself, then the reason for this name is given in the fact, that she had enjoyed this vision. This would be true, whether the surprise she expresses was because she survived the sight (vision), or because she here enjoyed such a vision at all. This fact also gives the name to the well—not the well of the living one seeing me, but of the living—and of course, life-giving, who here revealed himself.—It is true, that the Heb. ראי takes a different pointing in the 14 th verse, from that which it bears in the phrase rendered, “Thou God seest me;” but the sense given above seems, on the whole, most consistent, and is one which the words will bear.—A.G.]

FN#11 - A thousand volumes written against polygamy, would not lead to a clearer, fuller conviction, of the evils of that practice, than the story under review, Bush, Notes, p259.—A. G.]

FN#12 - This appears, too, in the answer which she makes to the question of the angel: Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress, Sarai.—A. G.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 16:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/genesis-16.html. 1857-84.

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